At least one of five campaign staffers for Rep. Scott Taylor who allegedly forged signatures on ballot petitions for an opponent appears to still be working for the Virginia Republican’s campaign.
That’s despite promises from the freshman lawmaker that he would purge his campaign of anyone who was involved in any illegal activity.
Democrats in the state have accused Taylor’s campaign staff of forging the signatures of dozens — possibly hundreds — of people in Virginia’s 2nd District to help Shaun Brown get her name the ballot as an independent in order to siphon off votes from Democratic nominee Elaine Luria in the hotly contested race.
“You have my word that if anyone in my campaign did anything that was wrong, that was illegal, that was inappropriate or something like that, I would fire them in a second,” Taylor said in a Facebook Live broadcast to his supporters on Aug. 6.
Taylor said he would not spare even his “closest advisers, who I wouldn’t want to fire, but I would.”
He already ousted his campaign manager over a different matter, he said, and after reports emerged about his staffers and the petition signatures, he swiftly axed his campaign consultant.
Yet one of Taylor’s campaign staffers, Lauren Creekmore, who has been accused of forging the signatures of at least 10 people on petitions for Brown, indicated as recently as Wednesday evening that she is still working for Taylor.
“So proud to work for Scott Taylor,” Creekmore posted on her personal Facebook page Wednesday, linking to a Facebook Live video of Taylor campaigning in his district.
Creekmore is also the host on Facebook of a “Volunteer Night” for Taylor’s campaign on Wednesday evening at the Republican Party of Virginia Beach’s office. As of Monday morning, she was still making updates to the event page.
“This event will be a volunteer event in the evening for Rep. Scott Taylor,” the event description reads. “We will be putting yard signs together, stuffing mail, and making phone calls.”
A spokesman for Taylor’s campaign could not be reached for comment at press time.
Taylor’s campaign paid Creekmore a shade over $2,400 per month from mid-April through June as part of its payroll expenses, according to the Federal Elections Commission records.
Jake Rubenstein, a spokesman for the Virginia Democratic Party, said in a statement that Taylor’s failure to fire Creekmore despite his promises to take such steps should undercut his rapport with voters.
“Scott Taylor’s credibility dwindles by the day,” Rubenstein said. “We now know that one of the staffers that forged voters’ signatures is still involved with his campaign. How can anyone believe a word that comes out of Scott Taylor’s mouth?”
A special prosecutor has been assigned to investigate the matter, and the state Democrats have filed suit to delay election officials from printing the ballots until the judge resolves their claim.
Taylor has said he knew some of his campaign staffers were working to get Brown on the ballot, but he denied the Democrats’ charge that his team undertook the effort to divide the Democratic vote.
Instead, Taylor said, his five staffers were helping Brown because they believed she had been railroaded and “disenfranchised” by the Democratic Party.
In all, Taylor’s five staffers submitted 584 signatures to help get Brown’s name on the ballot.
As part of the state Democratic Party’s lawsuit, 10 district residents signed affidavits saying their names appeared on the papers Creekmore submitted — but that the signatures on those documents were not theirs.
Democrats have submitted 31 other such affidavits to the court so far.
When election officials combined the Taylor staffers’ submissions with the petition papers Brown’s actual supporters had previously filed on her behalf, they found she collected more than 1,900 signatures — though just 1,030 of those were declared valid by the state board of elections.
That was still enough to get her on the November ballot, though she is facing prosecution in October for allegedly defrauding the federal government through a summer meal program for kids.
Brown ran against Taylor in 2016 as the Democratic nominee. But she announced in March that she would be running as an independent over objections to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee weighing in early on Luria’s behalf.
Though Taylor defeated Brown by 23 points to win a first term, the race this year is projected to be closer.